Thursday, August 11, 2005

Occams razor & the Flying Spagetti Monster

Har there. . .All praise His awesome greatness, the alllmighty Flying Spagetti Monster, shiver me timbers!

I was sent this very amusing link today which may explain my odd statement above:

People often wonder at me for preaching the importance of Occam's razor, yet it's so critical to our ability to decide which hypotheses and theories should be highest on our 'testing' agenda.

In truth, science CANNOT deny any hypotheses or theory (although some supposed scientists foolishly say it can), science can only demonstrate that some are more likely than others based on observable evidence. Yet, as there can be an INUMERABLE amount of potential hypotheses, we need some method for choosing which one's will be tested first.

This is no small question as the testing of any hypotheses/theory that proposes to be a model for any particular aspect of reality can take considerable time. . .for example, scientists have been talking up the 'big bang' theory for some time, but now many observations have been piling up that suggest that the big bang theory may be wrong and that a new theory called 'MOND' (Modified Newtonian Dynamic) may be correct. . .It can take a long time to establish the validity of a theory even with the use of Occam's razor -why hinder ourselves further?

What is Occam's razor? It is the tool that scientists use for determining the PRIORITY - not the validity, of any potential hypothesis. Occam's razor says one should choose the simplest hypothesis for testing first. This is because simpler hypotheses are easier to test. IMPORTANTLY, this allows us to test more hypotheses in a given amount of time, which, in turn, means that we can more quickly discover/uncover the best models of reality.

How long did it take our species to determine that the Earth was not at the center of the universe? Why? Because for a long time in our history we didn't understand the importance of testing the simplest hypothesis first.

Some people may argue that they don't want to 'test' the hypothesis of 'god' at all, they just want to believe in it/him/her. . .well I have news for you, your ACCEPTANCE of any hypothesis is the basis for testing it, by following a creed or belief you are testing whether or not you can SURVIVE in the ONE reality by LIVING in a manner consistent with that hypothesis. And don't give me any of that multiple reality BS. If you are standing in the path of a fast moving truck, you're going to step out of the way with due haste, just like everyone else. -Why? Because instinctively you KNOW there is only ONE reality, and your instincts are attuned to it, whether placed into your genes by millions of years of evolution, or by the the alllmighty Flying Spagetti Monster, Har. . .shiver me timbers!

Further reading:

"Language, Truth, & Logic" - A.J. Ayer

Also any other book on 'logical positivism' - the philosophical basis of modern science.


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